The 2010 Forest and Range Assessment: Detailed Information

By June, 2010, California must submit to the federal government assessment and resource strategy documents covering its forests and rangelands. These documents will also fulfill California’s legislative mandate for periodic updates on the status and trends of the state’s forests and rangelands. The Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) of CAL FIRE is performing this Assessment, in cooperation with many public and non-governmental partners. The process for developing this Assessment is designed to yield the best possible understanding of opportunities and priorities for using funding programs to address challenges related to California’s forest and rangeland resources. The 2010 Assessment is strongly shaped by the 2008 “Redesign” of the USDA Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry Program.

What is a forest and range assessment?
A forest and range assessment is a systematic overview of the status, trends and challenges to forests and rangelands, along with the definition of potential opportunities and priorities that will achieve measurable outcomes. For California, that area is the entire state, with special focus on the parts of the state with significant forest and range resources.

Assessments require working with key partners and stakeholders to analyze trends, threats and opportunities. Priority recommendations in assessments carefully consider the potential for shared management priorities among agencies and organizations.
Why is California doing an assessment now?
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is mandated (by Public Resource Code 4789) to periodically assess California's forest and rangeland resources. The Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) of CAL FIRE performs the Assessment in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies, public and private organizations and California's academic research community. The approach to the 2010 Assessment is based upon themes found in the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Farm Bill Requirement and Redesign Strategies (pdf) of the USDA Forest Service, which are similar to topics examined in FRAP's 2003 Assessment.

The 2008 Federal Farm Bill amended the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act (CFAA) to provide for greater reliance on state forest resource assessments and resource strategies. This is reflected in the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry “Redesign” Program. The goals of the CFAA amendments and the Redesign Program are to identify priority landscape areas and to underscore work needed to address national, regional and state forest management priorities.

For the 2010 Assessment, FRAP’s analytical framework is based on defining assets and threats specific to each Redesign subtheme. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology is used to combine or “overlay” assets and threats, to determine areas of both high value and high threat. These priority landscapes rank areas for where action is needed in terms of applying various tools that can result in the desired future landscape condition.

Consistent with USDA Forest Service Redesign instructions, the 2010 Assessment will also take into consideration various existing planning efforts, ranging from statewide plans (i.e. California's Wildlife Action Plan) to Community Wildfire Protection Plans. The final Assessment product will combine qualitative, quantitative and geospatial data.
What is the USDA Forest Service “Redesign Program”?
The 2008 Federal Farm Bill amended the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act (CFAA) to provide for greater reliance on state forest resource assessments and resource strategies. This is reflected in the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry (S&PF) “Redesign” Program. The goals of the CFAA amendments and the Redesign Program are to identify priority landscape areas and to underscore work needed to address national, regional and state forest management priorities.
There are three components of the Redesign approach:

  • Statewide Assessment of Forest Resources - provides an analysis of forest conditions and trends in the state and delineates priority rural and urban forest landscape areas.
  • Statewide Forest Resource Strategy - provides long-term strategies for investing resources to manage priority landscapes identified in the assessment, focusing where federal investment can most effectively stimulate or leverage desired action and engage multiple partners
  • Annual Report on Use of Funds - describes how S&PF funds were used to address the assessment and strategy (including fund leveraging and resources through partnerships) for each fiscal year.
The Assessment and strategy documents are to be approved by the State Forester (in California this is the CAL FIRE Director) and then submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by June 18, 2010 for approval. Annual reports are due at the end of the first fiscal quarter of the next federal fiscal year.
How will the forest resource strategy be conducted?
California’s forest resource strategy will reflect a long-term, comprehensive, coordinated strategy towards investing in resources that address the management and landscape priorities identified in its Assessment. It will follow national Redesign Themes around which the 2010 Assessment is organized.

In addition, the strategy document will:

  • Identify partner and stakeholder involvement.
  • Identify strategies for monitoring outcomes within priority landscape areas and how actions will be revised when needed.
  • Describe how California’s proposed activities will accomplish national S&PF program objectives and respond to specified performance measures and indicators.
  • Describe how S&PF programs will be used to address priority landscape and management objectives.
  • Incorporate existing planning efforts ranging from statewide plans (i.e. California's Wildlife Action Plan) to Community Wildfire Protection Plans, and address existing S&PF program planning requirements.
How does the 2010 Assessment relate to previous assessments and other resources?
In 2003, after over two years of preparation, FRAP completed a comprehensive, theme and geo-spatial-based Assessment of forest and range resources in California. The 2003 Assessment, maps and data layers have been circulated widely and are available on the FRAP website. Based on the 2003 Assessment, the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection developed its 2007 Strategic Plan and Forest Policy Statement (pdf). This Plan and Policy Statement was adopted after public review, hearings and input.

Other major existing resources being used for the 2010 Assessment are:

  • 2008 Vegetation Treatment Program Environmental Impact Report (draft circulating)
  • Spatial Analysis Project (SAP) for California completed in January 2008 jointly by CAL FIRE, USFS and other stakeholders
  • USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Redesign Project Layers made available in December 2008
  • USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest ’s Report of Forest Conditions in California (2009)
  • Other resources and data to be identified in the Assessment workplans or bibliographies
  • Stakeholder and contractor input

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